Thailand’s 1800MHz 4G mobile licence auction finished yesterday after 86 bidding rounds and 30 hours, with Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True Corp winning the two 18-year 2×15MHz concessions for a combined price of THB80.78 billion (USD2.25 billion). AIS bid THB40.99 billion for ‘Licence 2’ (1725MHz-1740MHz / 1820MHz-1835MHz) while True paid THB39.79 billion for ‘Licence 1’ (1710MHz-1725MHz / 1805MHz-1820MHz), far exceeding the reserve bid price of THB15.91 billion. A third bidder, Jas Mobile Broadband (owned by Thai fixed network operator Triple T Broadband’s parent Jasmine International) pushed the prices upwards, eventually being outbid by the two established Thai cellcos after placing its final offer of THB39.00 billion. Fourth bidder Digital Total Access Communication (DTAC) – which launched 1800MHz 4G LTE in Thailand earlier this month using refarmed GSM spectrum valid until 2018 – dropped out of the auction earlier with its last bid of THB17.50 billion.
Despite the high one-off prices, the winners are prevented from passing on costs to consumers by licensing conditions laid down by the National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), stating that 1800MHz concession holders must offer lower 4G tariff rates than existing 3G service charges, which average THB0.69-THB0.72 per minute for voice and THB0.26 per MB for data.
The winners must roll out their 4G networks to cover half the population within two years after receiving the licences, increasing to 80% of the population within four years.